Transformers Energon: SWAT Team (Prowl and Checkpoint) by Hasbro

It’s Transformers Thursday again and today I’m busting out a curious pair of Deluxes that Hasbro repainted and boxed together as what I seem to recall was a K-Mart exclusive. These guys were originally released in Energon as Rodimus and Prowl. For this release they got a matching SWAT inspired deco and renamed Checkpoint and… ah… Prowl. Ok! I don’t believe I’ve looked at either of these molds here on FFZ before, and I’ve got no packaged shot, so let’s jump right in with Prowl and his vehicle mode.

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Prowl’s alt mode is just batshit crazy. It’s a futuristic racecar turned into a police vehicle, complete with police lights on the raised rear spoiler. With its huge rear wheels and exhaust pipes sticking out the back and an enclosed transparent blue cockpit, nothing about this design lends itself to being a credible police car. The deco for this version includes white paint, printed details for the headlights, and the words “Police” along with some Chinese lettering on the sides. The spoiler is left grey as it was on the original Energon Prowl, which feels out of place. I think they should have painted it white to match the rest of the new deco. Also, stamping “SWAT” somewhere on the toy would have made him match Checkpoint a little better.

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Prowl comes with a transparent blue missile launcher that can be pegged into the holes on either side of the cockpit and it certainly adds a nice big piece of ordinance to the vehicle mode. If you have both Prowls, you can really deck him out with a launcher on each side. Honestly, I’m usually a fan of the creativity and imagination that went into a lot of the Energon and Cybertron vehicle modes, but I can’t really get behind this one. I like the design of the vehicle, but making it a police car is just too weird for me. Let’s move on to Checkpoint’s alt mode.

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Now here’s an alt mode that I really dig. It was a bit of an odd choice when it was originally released as Rodimus, but I really love what Hasbro did with it here. What we have is a kind of futuristic truck that looks credible enough as a SWAT vehicle to me. It’s been re-cast in white plastic; you’ve got hazard stripes running down the sides of the hood, painted police lights on the roof, and SWAT stamped across the rear spoiler. Cool! I would have sculpted armor plating for the windshield, but I could still see this thing ramming through warehouse doors and breaking up drug cartels. Oh yeah! Checkpoint has a transparent orange missile launcher that can mount on the back of the spoiler, and I think it’s supposed to pass for some kind of turbine engine spitting fire out of the back. I would have preferred a more conventional looking weapon that I could point forward over the roof, but I’ll concede this piece looks pretty good on the toy. Ok, so let’s transform these guys and see what we got.

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Prowl… oh, Prowl. Where do I even begin with what I don’t like about this guy? Is it the squat and wonky proportions? The fact that he doesn’t look like he has a pelvis? The exposed hollow forearms? Or maybe it’s the way his head sits so far back and his chest obscures it? I don’t think there’s a single thing I like about Prowl’s robot mode and that’s saying a lot because I can find charm in even some of the worst Tranformers. Ok, so I kind of dig the concept of the back wheels landing on the top of his shoulders. It reminds me of G1 Slapdash. I also get a kick out of the way his exhaust pipes hang off his head. But at this point, I’m just complimenting him on his eccentricities. Let’s move on and see if Checkpoint is any better.

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Yes, Checkpoint has his share of issues too. His head is way too small and if you turn him around you can see that he’s really two dimensional. It’s like all the detail went on the front, almost like he’s a standee. But on the whole I can’t hate on this design. I love the way the shoulders angle out with the wheels on them and that giant Autobot emblem on his chest is awesome. Even the way his cab converts into his legs and feet is pretty cool. I think the deco used for Rodimus works better on the robot mode, but I’m still perfectly Ok with displaying this figure on my shelf. And displayed on the shelf is really where he belongs, because his articulation sucks.

And then there are the combined Powerlinx modes. I’ve gone on record that I’m not a big fan of the Energon combining gimmick, but since we’re dealing with a set of two figures here, we might as well see how they look. Let’s start with Powerlinx Checkpoint…

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Jesus H. Christ! What the hell, Hasbro? What the hell? It’s like the Autobot equivalent of a human centipede. I’m pretty sure I could take two random Transformers from any era and concoct a better combiner than this. Ok, maybe not, but this is really weak. The toy engineer who signed his name to this probably went home that night, drank a quart of scotch and shut himself in the closet out of a sense of shame. It can barely move its arms, which is the only thing preventing him from shooting himself in the head. How about Powerlinx Prowl?

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It’s better. It’s not good, but it’s better. At least this looks like a functional robot. Yes, half of poor mangled Checkpoint is hanging off the back of it, but from the front, Powerlinx Prowl doesn’t look all that bad.

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I was kind of excited to dig this set out and play around with it again, but now that I have I’m pretty disappointed. I’m being charitable when I say that this set has not aged well. I still dig Checkpoint as a standalone figure. He’s not fantastic or anything, but he’s solid enough. As for Prowl, I wasn’t a fan of the mold the first time around and this set hasn’t really done anything to help it along. One might have expected a set of two Energon Deluxes to be selected for their optimum combining ability, but I can’t say as these two combine any better than most of the toys, which is to say the gimmick may be well intentioned, but it still just sucks.

Next Transformers Thursday, I’ll try to get away from the Energon and Cyberton and journey back to the line that was responsible for getting me back into collecting Transformers… Robots in Disguise!

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